2004-01-02 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Beachcomber

Sixty years ago this week, on January 4, 1944, a German U-Boat sunk the USS Turner, a Navy destroyer, off Rockaway’s shores. Many residents stood on the beach and watched the Turner burn and sink. At one time, veterans’ groups met on that date to hold a memorial service, but many of those who remember the event are now gone as well, their voices stilled and their memories gone to us all.

Wide receiver Leon Grant of Far Rockaway High School was named to Newsday’s first team all-city roster this week. Grant finished second in the city with 70 or more yards in receptions in four games and scored nine touchdowns for the season. His best game was an 8-catch, 80 yard, two touchdown effort against August Martin. His teammate, James Romain was named to the second team as a kick return specialist. Congratulations to them both.

A few locals who remember the days of the Tuckee Cup wrote to say that the dish was only fifty cents, not the $1.25 that I remembered and was quoted in the recent New York Times article. I guess memory does dim with age.

Duane Reade, the drug store giant that is suing local artist Patrick Clark for opposing the sign that it put on its roof as well as The Wave for publishing his opposition, has been sold to Texas billionaire investor Robert Bass. Anthony Cuti, the firm’s CEO, will reportedly remain on with the new owner. The daily papers reported that many of those who hold large blocks of Duane Reade stock were unhappy with the price of the sale. Duane Reade, by the way, is having sign problems in Manhattan, where the company developed a store in a former movie theater and then used the large marquee for its sign. When local civic groups complained that the sign was too big, too obtrusive and unnecessary, the company retorted that its sign was an improvement over what was there in the past. That sounds familiar to locals, and we can only wait for the company to sue those who did the complaining.

The New York Post loves lists, and one of their most favorites is their "Top Studs" list. Representative Anthony Weiner made the list this year. The list says that Weiner is "extremely ambitious and hardworking," but that he "could be cruelly described as a pencil-necked geek." Perhaps when he becomes Mayor, that description will go away.

Democratic front-runner Howard Dean did not do himself any favors, even with his Liberal constituency, with his recent statement that he would not prejudge Osama bin Laden. "I’ve resisted pronouncing a sentence before guilt is found," Dean told a New Hampshire newspaper. Osama has admitted his complicity with the attack and urged others. What does it take for a Liberal politician to admit that somebody can actually be guilty of anything?

The Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department called to say that the money for the roof alarm on the planned new firehouse was donated to the organization in the memory of Theresa Munson, the only Broad Channel resident to be killed in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Those involved with the new school plan for MS 180 have decided that it does not pay to allow the public to know what is happening. Dr. Kathleen Cashin, the supervising administrator in Region Five, continues to say that she is not allowed to speak without permission. The Department of Education continues to refuse that permission. Now, the parent representatives who are negotiating with Cashin have put a lid on their comments as well. Angelique Reid told The Wave last week, "We are working with Congressman Meeks and Dr. Cashin for a resolution, and Meeks does not want us to comment."

We dropped in to the Washington Hotel last weekend to say goodbye to the owners. The landmark kosher catering facility and hotel will close around January 15 and the property will reportedly eventually house six new homes – four on the hotel property and two on the parking lot across the street. The hotel’s demise is a great loss for Rockaway from both a business standpoint and in terms of the peninsula’s history.

Can we use today’s values to excoriate the sins of the past? That battle is fought constantly in the south in terms of the confederate flag and the naming of public buildings. In Virginia, a group of parents is attempting to change the name of Jefferson Davis Middle School because the school is named after the slave-owning president of the Confederacy. Another group is trying to get the name of Robert E. Lee, the great Confederate general from another school. Should the trend continue, we could see groups trying to change the name of John F. Kennedy Airport because the former president was a philanderer. How about The Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial? Both of those famous edifices are named after former slaveholders as well. How about the Tweed Office Building, the headquarters for the Department of Education. Tweed was the most corrupt political hack in New York City history. Here in Rockaway, we are about to name a street for an admitted federal felon. Round and round it goes. Where does it stop?


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